AMAC Exclusive – By Eleanor Vaughn
In 2021, we heard plenty of news about the future of abortion in America. Republican legislatures introduced multiple bills that would ban abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat; the most notable of these “heartbeat bills” was enacted in Texas and possibly represents a new way to protect the unborn. In addition, a major abortion rights case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was argued before the Supreme Court, prompting many to ask if the Court will reconsider Roe v. Wade. In 2022, not only will we find out the results of that case, but the future of the abortion debate could be drastically transformed.
Roe was decided in January of 1973, 49 years ago this month. Ever since the abortion debate has always been primarily about Roe v. Wade. Science, healthcare, and the preferences of the American people have rarely been taken into account. But since there are indications the Supreme Court could be revisiting Roe and abortion could be moving back to the center stage of American politics, it’s worth asking: what do the American people think about it these days?
Recent polling tells a strikingly different story from what you might hear from most mainstream news outlets.
In a Gallup poll from last year, 47% of people identified as “pro-life.” In that same poll, 67% of respondents supported some restrictions on abortion, as opposed to allowing unlimited abortion for any reason at any time—an all-too-common position held by many elected Democrats today.
There are even some specific abortion limitations that Americans widely agree on. For example, according to an AP-NORC poll, 65% of Americans think that, in most cases, abortion should be illegal in the second trimester of pregnancy (13-26 weeks). The hotly debated Mississippi law at the center of the Dobbs case would ban abortions after 16 weeks – suggesting that the law may not be so controversial after all, no matter the media spin.
Similarly, except in extreme circumstances (like when the life of the mother is at stake), 80% of Americans think that abortion should be illegal in the third trimester (26-40 weeks), with 54% saying it should be illegal in all cases in the third trimester. In light of these findings, the progressive “abortion-on-demand” agenda is clearly far too radical for the American people.
There is also widespread support for limiting taxpayer funding of abortion. A Marist poll from last year showed that 58% of Americans oppose using taxpayer money to fund abortions. This is especially notable given that President Joe Biden and many Congressional Democrats have pushed to exclude the Hyde Amendment from their budget proposals. The decades-old legislative provision prohibits tax dollars funding abortions, and getting rid of the Hyde Amendment would mark a major break from precedent – in addition to going against the wishes of a solid majority of Americans.
Recent polling also shows that, contrary to the left’s claims that abortion policy should be set by the federal government, Americans want more local control over the issue. The aforementioned Marist poll, for example, showed that 65% of Americans think states, rather than the federal government, should make abortion laws. A poll commissioned by Students for Life showed that this attitude is especially popular with young people; 70% of young adults want to be able to vote on abortion policy. 44% favored turning the issue back to the states, with only 36% opposing the idea; the remaining 18% were unsure. This, of course, is likely what would happen in the event the Supreme Court revisited Roe v. Wade. For the 55% of Americans that Gallup reports are dissatisfied with the country’s policies on abortion, it’s clear that there’s still a lot that should be debated.
For the pro-life movement, there is abundant reason for hope. If given a say, average Americans will vote to change the status quo on abortion, with limitations on funding, restrictions on legality, or even outright bans. But regardless of what changes may happen in this year or the next, those of us who are pro-life can take great comfort in the fact that—no matter what the media may say—we are not alone.
Eleanor Vaughn is a writer living in Virginia.
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